WILSON, N.C. — The much anticipated grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room in the Willis N. Hackney Library at Barton College will be held on Thursday, Sept. 25, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. The ceremony will include a reception and a lecture featuring Dr. Patrick Scott, Distinguished Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of South Carolina, and the former director of the University’s Irvin Department of Rare Books & Special Collections. Dr. Scott’s lecture will focus on Scottish rare books and how they can be used to stimulate undergraduate research. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the library. The event is open to the public, and the community is invited to attend.
“The opening of the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room will be a wonderful event that highlights the College’s rich and growing collections in Scottish Literature, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) materials, and the historical and cultural record of Eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Norval C. Kneten, president of Barton College. “Even more importantly, it provides powerful opportunities for our students to have direct contact with these rare items, and to develop critical thinking and communication skills through working with these materials.”
The K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room is named for Dr. K.D. Kennedy, Jr., trustee emeritus and former chair of the Barton College Board of Trustees. A longtime trustee and friend of the College, Dr. Kennedy’s many interests have supported capital campaigns and a number of project campaigns across campus throughout the last two decades. The addition of the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room to the College’s library honors Dr. Kennedy’s most recent gift to the College.
“Materials in the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room will give context and background to teaching and research at Barton College,” shared George Loveland, director of Hackney Library. “The collection will focus primarily on Scottish literature, history, and culture, which has numerous connections to the history and tradition of Barton College. Alexander and Thomas Campbell, and Barton Stone, for whom the College is named, were ministers in the Scottish Presbyterian Church before leaving that denomination to lead the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) movement (Barton’s denominational affiliation).
“Dr. Kennedy has been an avid collector of Robert Burns material for more than 15 years,” Loveland continued. “He first became interested in Burns while doing genealogical research on his branch of the Kennedy family in Scotland. In an old family Bible, he discovered a link between the eastern North Carolina Kennedys and the family of the Marquis of Ailsa, near Ayrshire, Scotland. Dr. Kennedy described how this discovery led to his passion for Robert Burns.”
“I noticed that Robert Burns trod all the same roads and knew all the same people as did my Kennedys in the late 1700s,” Dr. Kennedy explained. “I thought by studying Robert Burns’ poems letters, histories, and way of thinking, I could get closer to my family’s mindset, way of making decisions, feelings on matters from everyday life to politics to settling disputes to religion. So I paralleled my search for Kennedys with a search for Robert Burns’ intellect.”
In addition to establishing the K.D. Kennedy, Jr., Rare Book Room in Hackney Library, Dr. Kennedy has seeded the College’s collection with rare books from the British Isles. Among these selections are Robert Burns’ “Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect,” a First Edinburgh edition of the poet’s work, published in 1787, and a first edition of Charles Dickens’s novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” published in 1870. Dr. Kennedy has also donated a number of supplemental materials related to Robert Burns and literature of the British Isles to Hackney Library.
As the collection grows, it will also include rare books that influenced the thinking of Scottish poets, essayists, theologians, and educators. The College has consulted with Dr. Scott; Dr. Newell Williams, president of Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University; and the Reverend John Richardson, regional minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina. These scholars have helped the library compile a list of authors whose work created the intellectual climate that Barton Stone, the Campbells, and Burns moved in. That list includes: James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, James and Robert Haldane, Thomas Reid, George Jardine, John Locke, George Campbell, Hugh Blair, Adam Smith, Francis Hutcheson, James Beattie, Dugald Stewart, Henry Home (Lord Kames), and David Hume (the leading opponent of the Scottish scholars).
Also on display for the opening of the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room will be the silver communion chalice, paten, and flagon that the Disciples of Christ founder Barton Stone used at the historic Cane Ridge Church in Kentucky shortly before his death in 1844. These items, on brief loan from the Disciples Center at the Indianapolis headquarters of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), are being delivered to the College by the Reverend Richardson, specifically for this special occasion. They provide the College with a direct connection to the rich Stone-Campbell heritage of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), with whom the College is affiliated.
About the Speaker:
In addition to his serving as a Distinguished Professor of English at USC, Dr. Scott served for 15 years in his role as Director of the University’s directing the Irvin Department of Rare Books & Special Collections. During this period, the Irvin Department of Rare Books & Special Collections added more than 100 distinct collections, largely through gift, and, in 2010, it moved into a new building, the Hollings Special Collections Library. The department also developed the use of special collections in education and outreach, with an expanded exhibition program, special events and conferences, pioneer digital projects, and regular undergraduate courses in book history giving students hands-on experience with rare materials. Before moving to South Carolina in 1976, he taught at the secondary level in Nigeria and Britain, and at the college level in Leicester, Edinburgh, and at the College of William & Mary. While at South Carolina, Dr. Scott taught more than 35 different courses in British literature, writing, African literature, historical bibliography, and rare book librarianship. Since 2012, he has edited the journal “Studies in Scottish Literature”; he is an honorary research fellow in Scottish literature at the University of Glasgow, and he currently has NEH support for research relating to Robert Burns. Dr. Scott has Master of Arts degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Leicester and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.